The condominium market is becoming more lively — and more expensive — as mass transit expands farther west across the Chao Phraya River
The western part of Bangkok, which most people refer to as the Thon Buri side of the Chao Phraya River, has seen only a few large-scale infrastructure development projects and limited major investment by the private sector compared with the eastern or Phra Nakhon side of Bangkok.
This is no surprise given the way the capital has evolved over the years. Thon Buri is far from the central business district (CBD) and so mass transit that has developed over the past two decades has focused mainly on the east side of the river. So far, only one BTS line (with six stations excluding the Purple Line) operates west of the river, making the area less appealing to prospective residential property buyers and developers.
Most of the residential projects on the west side of the river are housing developments that date back more than 20 years. Although there are many condominium projects in the area, the number is still dramatically lower than on the east side. The total number of completed and registered condominium units in the area is 102,770, only 20% of total units in Bangkok. Other facilities such as major shopping malls are also more limited on the west side.
Most of the condominium projects on the Thon Buri side are located in older communities not far from universities, workplaces or established shopping malls. Many developments have been built in the area around the Pin Klao-Boromratchachonnanee intersection (known as the 35 Bowl Intersection) over many years. But after the BTS skytrain crossed the river and the first two stations opened at Krung Thon Buri and Wong Wian Yai in 2009, the area around these two stations became a hot location.
The condominium market on the Thon Buri side gained further momentum in 2013 with then opening of the Talat Phlu, Pho Nimit and Wutthakat stations as the BTS pushed farther west. At the same time, interest was growing in other areas west of the river but far from BTS lines, in particular along Suksawad and Rat Burana roads, where road transport and bridge access was improving. Still, the area has some catching up to do. The number of new condominium units launched from 2009 to the middle of 2017 on the west side of the river totalled 58,150, compared with nearly 320,000 on the east side.
However, the Thon Buri side is becoming more interesting for developers as construction begins on the Blue Line routes along Charan Sanitwong and Phetkasem roads, with completion expected in 2019 to 2020. In addition, the Western Orange Line and Southern Purple Line have received cabinet approval and construction is expected to start soon. Further extensions are planned that will eventually take mass rail transit to the farthest western reaches of the capital, such as the Blue Line extension from Lak Song to Phutthamonthon Sai 4 in the future. In addition, a new large-scale shopping mall on the Chao Phraya River bank is included the Golden Line plan which will add to the appeal of the area.
These developments help explain why developers are keeping Thon Buri in their sights -- and why prices have been rising as competition intensifies for land suitable for large-scale high-rise development. Some projects launched in the past two years are selling at more than 100,000 baht per square metre already. The area along Charan Sanitwong Road close to the Pin Klao intersection is attracting the most activity as many condominiums have already been launched and some developers have already acquired land plots and are waiting to launch new projects in the future.
While the area along the Southern Purple Line is not seeing much movement yet as construction has not begun, it is clear that new mass-transit lines will transform the landscape and the market in Thon Buri in much the same way that BTS and MRT development influenced the east side. Higher land prices are becoming a fact of life as landlords that have been holding plots for decades see opportunities to sell to developers eager to cash in on the trend.
However, developers have to be careful when it comes to pricing. The fact remains that the west side of the river is known mainly for detached housing developments where units are reasonably priced. For that reason, some people who want to live in the area will resist the idea of paying more than 100,000 baht a square metre for a condo. Such units could take a year or more to sell. Some projects with starting prices above 100,000 baht per sq m are still not sold out even though construction has been completed and units are ready to transfer.
In summary, while economic growth remains slow and the market is awaiting the start of more mass transit lines, the overall condominium market on the west side of the river has yet to hit its stride. But if work begins soon on the Western Orange and Southern Purple lines, the market will become more interesting in the future.
Land prices in along Charan Sanitwong and Phetkasem roads are already at 200,000 baht per square wah and climbing, so competition for good sites will increase. As well, new intersection stations such as Bang Khun Non, Tha Phra and Bang Wa will become hot locations for all kinds of development, similar to Asok, though much will depend on Bangkok town planning policies.
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